The Risk of Dying in a Fire…Dropped?

Julian Ybarra, Journalist
Injected Media

(Tucson, Arizona – April 18, 2017) Firefighters, their sacrifice, and their advancing firefighting techniques are to thank for our daily safety…but are they making an impact on fire safety as a whole? There are truly many details to consider – including extreme weather, climate, and even population and location of fire resources, relative to the site. 

According to the U.S. Fire Administration the risk of death by fire has been lowering over the past decade. The fire death rate has decreased 24.4 percent over the past ten years from 2005 to 2014. Overall the risk of dying in a fire is pretty low however there are instances where tragedy occurs. In 2014 there were 3,428 deaths by fire in the U.S. in a total population of 318,907,401 which gives us a death rate of 10.7 (relatively low).

Leading causes of home structure fires: 2010–2014

It’s like something your mother is always saying ‘don’t leave the stove on or unattended, and don’t leave the house while the dryer is running’. However in some cases there are stories where that seems to be the case. In a study done by the National Fire Protection Association the majority of household fires are caused by the activity the person is doing. In 2015 there were 3,280 deaths by fire again lower than the previous year, but there were still 1,435,500 fires in the United States. In that year household fires caused 78 percent of civilian fire deaths, and of those tragedies cooking equipment and heating equipment were the two main causes of home fires. Seems as if most fires could be prevented by simply taking extra caution to what is happening in the house, and remembering what appliances are on.

For more information and statistics read the Fire Overview Fact Sheet provided by the NFPA.

Recently in Tucson a string of house hold fires has cropped up around the city and have claimed lives. On March 19, a 53-year-old man died in his home on the west side in the 2700 block of South Castle Drive, near West 36th Street and South La Cholla Boulevard. It was no April fools when another fire claimed the lives of over 30 animals on the northwest side at wildlife sanctuary, which is attached to the owners home. Fortunately a Tucson couple were able to leave their burning home on March 28, when fire investigators claimed the fire originated in the laundry area.

Even though it reads as though there is a fire every other week in Tucson, nationally that is part of the lowering statistics. In 2015 U.S. fire departments responded to on average a fire every 23 seconds, a structure fire every 63 seconds, a home fire every 86 seconds, an outside or unclassified fire every 52 seconds and a highway vehicle fire every 181 seconds.

Here are the top 3 States that led the nation in fire deaths in 2014, and interestingly enough Arizona did not make the cut given that Arizonans live in a dry-hot climate. 

  1. Texas 236
  2. California 192
  3. Pennsylvania 185

Top 10 States of Relative Risk of dying by fire per million population in the U.S. (These rates are provided by local districts and should be used with caution due to small numbers of deaths per state capita)

  1. Mississippi
  2. Oklahoma
  3. West Virginia
  4. District of Columbia
  5. Alabama
  6. Tennessee
  7. Louisiana
  8. Alaska
  9. Arkansas
  10. Maine

In 2014 Arizona total fire deaths were 46, its fire death rate 6.8 which are measured by deaths per million population, and its relative risk is 0.6 that means that Arizonans are 40 percent less likely to die in a fire than the overall U.S. population.

For a complete look at the U.S. Fire Administration statistics click here

There are many factors that determine the decreased fire death rate such as constant firefighter training, increased services and improved technology. Fire safety is often taught at home from parents to children, community outreach from fire departments, and public schools practicing fire drills. Overall we can be thankful to the hard work and dedication to our nation’s firefighters for providing an excellent service, and proving that fire-safety is an important issue.

Julian Ybarra
Julian Ybarra is a journalist and media expert from Tucson, Arizona.
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